Anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Muslim racism, or as it is broadly known more widely as Islamophobia, manifests in the everyday lives of Muslims in the UK. This harms the mobility of Muslims in public areas – be it on transport networks, near major transport hubs, or when accessing public services. It manifests in institutions where persons face direct and indirect forms of racial and religious discrimination. As the Social Mobility Commission noted, this has a real consequence for the life chances of British Muslims in education and in their employment prospects where some are penalised because of their ethnic and religious identity.
Tweets from our account last night were unbecoming of the standards we set for ourselves as an organisation dedicated to challenging this form of bigotry. The wording was unacceptable and we acknowledge how this has caused many a great deal of upset and in subsequent tweets. For that, we apologise profusely.
Muslims of all ages are at risk of discrimination in educational institutions, in the workplace, and near their homes when accessing public and private services. This goes beyond being passed over for roles, and often consists of ongoing ‘low-level’ abuse and mistreatment met with ignorance from those in authoritative and managerial roles when these issues are highlighted. In one report to our service, a woman was labelled a ‘troublemaker’ by management because she raised the racist bullying she had faced from a male colleague. We do support individuals on discrimination issues, be it in schools or the workplace, and in our 2016 annual report, we had 46 cases or 7 percent of verified reports we classified as discriminatory in nature.
Anti-Muslim hatred has the effect of limiting the geographic mobility of victims, meaning that they are frequently less willing to travel around particular areas they consider risky or become anxious about leaving their own neighbourhood for fear of victimisation. This would appear to intersect with factors such as Islamic visibility (i.e. the wearing Islamic clothing), meaning that often it is women whose geographic mobility is restricted. The impact of ongoing ‘low-level’ harassment and discrimination can have a serious impact on mental wellbeing as they are often less able to escape victimisation in their own neighbourhood, at school or in the workplace.
The impact of anti-Muslim incidents, whether violent or otherwise, can be very significant to victims. Police responding to reports of anti-Muslim incidents, and indeed any hate incident, need to consider the deeper mental and emotional impacts aggravated offences have on victims and further training in these areas may be required by forces.
There is evidence within our dataset to show how a casual reference to terrorism directed at Muslims can, on occasion, escalate to more serious, false and sometimes malicious accusations of extremism, which could have potentially serious repercussions for the individuals they are directed at. While there have been many cases in which young people needed safeguarding from extremist views, we have received numerous accounts of Muslim individuals being disingenuously reported as ‘suspected terrorists’ as a form of Islamophobic abuse.
The problem of anti-Muslim hatred and racism is not going away, but we have always prided ourselves on standing in solidarity with other minorities to ensure that all forms of racism, bigotry, and discrimination are challenged, and the individuals who experience it get the necessary support, be it emotional or through the mechanisms of the criminal justice service. Empowering minority communities, not demonising them is what we must always aspire towards and we fell short of that. We encourage dialogue and while we may disagree with some, this fight against racism and hatred requires mutuality, tolerance and respect.
The poorly worded tweets will now be reviewed internally as they were not appropriate or in line with the values of our work, and action will be taken to avoid such statements in the future.